OT & Speech and Language waiting lists remain high as additional staff are required – Smith


Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and Midlands-North-West European Parliament candidate Brendan Smith has said that figures released to him show additional therapy staff are urgently required to meet demands for Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy services in Cavan-Monaghan.


Deputy Smith commented, “In Cavan-Monaghan there are 524 people waiting on first time speech and language assessments while there are 833 people waiting on first time occupational therapy services.


“These numbers show that it is imperative Cavan-Monaghan receive more staff to meet the service demands in the area. It is not acceptable that children are being deprived of these essential supports.


“We have become accustomed to long waiting lists in our Health Services, but we must not accept this as the norm. Early intervention in speech and language therapy is key. These long wait times for a first assessment are negatively impacting on children’s development and ability to prosper through their childhood.


“We need the government to adopt a more strategic plan to address the challenges facing our health service, with a real focus on recruitment and retention.  The current plan is simply not working,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.


PQ 12785 19 S&L and OT Waitlist in Cavan Monaghan


Very valuable discussions re Brexit with Guy Verhofstadt – Brendan Smith TD


I had very valuable meetings in the European Parliament, Commission and ALDE Group Headquarters in Brussels. Among the issues discussed were Brexit, CAP Reform and CAP Budget, Rural Development Funding, Fisheries, EU Digital Economy, Climate Change and forthcoming European Elections.

Guy Verhofstadt, the Parliament’s lead negotiator in the Brexit negotiations, reiterated to me again his strong views in relation to the need to ensure no return of a border on our island.

Obvious concerns outlined by Senior IFA and ICSA Officials in relation to CAP funding and impact of Brexit. Good to catch up again with Jim Nicholson MEP and very appreciative of the extensive briefings given by Commission Officials on such a range of issues.

Next CAP programme must protect small farmers – Smith


Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and European Parliament candidate for Midlands-North-West Brendan Smith has said the next round of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should protect Irish farmers and has called for the Pillar 1 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) ceiling of €60,000 to be adopted.


Deputy Smith commented, “The next CAP reform should permit Member States to decide on the capping of direct payments at national level. Secondly, it is Fianna Fáil policy that the next CAP should reduce the current BPS payment ceiling to €60,000 in Ireland. The current ceiling is €150,000.


“Such a policy shift would ensure that future CAP funds safeguard small and medium sized farmers.


“This is a socially progressive policy which will help to safeguard the important family model of farming and those on low incomes.


“Fianna Fáil were the first political party in 2017 to call for a €60,000 BPS ceiling. We will continue to campaign to achieve this as a key measure of our agriculture policy in the time ahead.


“These same views were echoed at a recent public meeting in County Monaghan with members of the farming community and our Party’s Agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue TD.


“The final say on the next CAP funding will be made by the incoming European Parliament post May 26th. If fortunate to be elected to the Parliament I can assure the farmers whom I have met across Midlands-North-West that they will be represented in these debates with a strong Irish voice who understands the problems facing this sector who are under considerable income pressures at present.


“Yesterday at meetings with Members of the European Parliament and with Senior Commission Officials I outlined very clearly the absolute need to protect the CAP budget due to its critical importance not just to the farming community but to the entire rural economy” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith

Smith welcomes German Chancellor commitments to people both sides of border


Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and European Parliament candidate for Midlands-North-West Brendan Smith has welcomed the commitment given at Farmleigh by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that the European Union will do everything they can to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking at a local election launch in Virginia, County Cavan Deputy Smith explained, “It was very welcome that key voices and stakeholders from Northern Ireland were invited to meet with the Chancellor to tell her of the difficulties posed by Brexit, not least a hard no-deal Brexit.

“It is time for all key stakeholders in this process to make sure that the impact on the day-to-day lives of people living on both sides of the Border remain foremost in their decisions.

“There is a litany of issues which must be protected. Cooperation that exists now between health services on both sides of the Border must remain in place. People requiring healthcare from both sides rely on this cooperation. There can be no borders or boundaries when it comes to healthcare.

“I was encouraged to hear Chancellor Merkel make direct mention of the Border and her own lived experience of how detrimental walls and hard borders can be to a region.

“Farmers, service providers, business communities and families in the Border region cannot be inconvenienced or have their livelihoods threatened by the political fallout of Brexit.

“I will use my knowledge of the EU, gained from my years on the Council of Ministers, to ensure that our concerns are heard clearly in Brussels and Strasbourg if fortunate enough to be elected to Europe this coming May.

“When Brexit was first mooted in the UK I highlighted the difficulties that would arise, and I will not stop fighting for the people living on or near the Border – on both sides,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.


Garda management must step up efforts following spate of ATM robberies– Smith


Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and Midlands-North-West European Parliament candidate Brendan Smith has said that following the ongoing ATM robberies, including last night’s incident in Castleblayney, County Monaghan, senior Garda management must make finding these criminals a priority.


Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “Last night’s robbery in Castleblayney is just one in a spate of attempts to rob ATM’s in our region. I have been attending meetings and visiting constituents across the area and concern is growing.


“Operating both sides of the border this gang are causing much concern in our region. Not to mention the act of stealing ATM’s and the money within, there are farm machinery and JCB’s being stolen to facilitate these crimes.


“Villages are being left with local stores closed, the bank in Castleblayney looks likely to be closed for some time until repair works are completed. There is collateral damage to our towns and villages as a consequence of these vile acts.


“The Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner must step up their efforts, in conjunction with their peers in the PSNI, to ensure these preparators are held to account. 


“I have continually highlighted in Dáil Éireann to the Justice Minister that there are unique policing demands on Garda Divisions in the border region and that additional resources, including both personnel, modern vehicles and equipment, should be allocated to such areas to deal with crime including cross border criminality,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.


Policing PQ Reply Brendan Smith TD


Minister must intervene in RTÉ player restrictions for Northern Ireland viewers – Smith


Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and Midlands-North-West European Parliament candidate Brendan Smith has called on the Minister for Communications to engage with RTÉ to ensure those using the RTÉ Player in Northern Ireland can do so without limitations.


Deputy Smith commented, “Due to regional restrictions RTÉ online services are limited in Northern Ireland. There is an expectation that these services should not be restricted at all. RTÉ broadcast to the island of Ireland, without restriction. This should also apply, and be easier to access, online.


“I understand the problem arises from IP addresses and those classed with an IP address in ‘Britain’. The Minister for Communications must use his office to intervene and guarantee that anyone in Ireland, in any part of our island, can access RTÉ’s online services.


“It is disgraceful that Northern Irish viewers are classed as “international”. The Minister must speak with senior management in RTÉ to see arrangements made to ensure seamless access is made available to those in Northern Ireland,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.



Good Friday Agreement must be protected and it’s potential maximised – Brendan Smith TD


Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan and European Parliament candidate for Midlands North-West, Brendan Smith TD, has said it is vital that the Good Friday Agreement is protected and maximised to its full potential.


Deputy Smith said, “The Good Friday Agreement is the most important and significant political accord of the past quarter century, not just on these islands but across the whole of Europe. This is despite the careless comments from some politicians in Westminster who have taken peace on our island for granted.


“The absence of the Northern Ireland Institutions, thanks to the partisan intransigence of the two main parties in the North, is hurting people across both communities. A recent Irish Times poll found that 79% of adults in Northern Ireland want a return of the Assembly, irrespective of whether the two main parties sort out their differences.


“The Good Friday Agreement has brought great benefits to all of this island and we need to maximise its potential for the benefit of everyone in this country and for Irish/British relations.


“Yesterday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told members of the outgoing European Parliament in Strasbourg that the Good Friday Agreement will continue to apply in all Brexit scenarios and stressed that the UK is expected to uphold it in spirit and in letter.


“This will be a priority issue for me in Brussels if fortunate to be elected to the European Parliament. This commitment from Europe is welcome, but we will need, in this region, to ensure that it is honoured in full and without delay,” concluded Deputy Smith.